Few things will break up homeschooling monotony like fun field trips! And nothing drives home the learning like a visit to a museum, nature preserve, petting zoo, historic site, live performance, or attraction that relates to a subject you’ve been studying. Often a single field trip will yield the same depth of learning as weeks’ worth of book study.
Here are 5 tips for field trip planning to help you avoid stress and maximize learning potential on your next field trip:
Stay informed of area events and attractions.
Print and broadcast media can often alert you to great attractions and events you might be unaware of otherwise, but don’t forget to take advantage of social media, too! Personally, I follow Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram accounts of virtually all of my favorite historic sites, museums, and arts venues. Tourism bureau accounts for local cities and towns can also help keep me abreast of special events and programs I may want to be a part of, as well as alert me to discount pricing when it is available. Signing on to mailing lists can send some of the same information to my mailbox or inbox.
There are likely interesting and educational events and attractions in your community or region on an almost constant basis, but it’s hard to take advantage of things you don’t know about!
Don’t forget to mark your calendar!
Sometimes I find out about events well in advance, and I’ve learned my lesson when it comes to assuming I’ll remember them. Life gets busy, and more than once I’ve ended up forgetting a special event or attraction I wanted very much to share with my children.
So I try to record everything on my calendar, even down to specific details like event hours and prices and other particulars that will help me plan for my visit. I’m an old-fashioned type who usually prefers jotting all this info on a paper calendar, but I do sometimes add notes and schedule alerts on my phone as well, rather than take a chance on missing something like an upcoming free orchestra performance or a medieval festival or a special exhibit at a local museum.
Consider going it alone.
My children love going on field trips with other kids, whether it be with friends or as part of a homeschool group. Certainly field trips as a part of a group can be fun and educational, not to mention the cheaper group rates that are often available!
But, truth be told, with more kids comes more distraction. Doing field trips as a family makes it easier to take your time, discuss the things you see at greater length, and follow your own interests rather than those of a larger group.
Learn every detail you can before visiting.
Few things can ruin a good learning opportunity like disorganization, poor planning, and a stressed-out mom.
You don’t want to schedule an amazing field trip only to waste two hours driving around because you got lost or you can’t find parking. There might be discounts available to homeschoolers or hidden fees you need to find out about. Determine if there are places to eat nearby or if you can pack a lunch and, if so, if you can bring it in with you. Study maps, locate parking, identify traffic issues, check up on the weather, and consider calling someone and asking a dozen questions so you know exactly what to expect.
Check for free study guides, worksheets, or child-oriented information packets available from attraction websites.
Many historic sites, museums, nature preserves and zoos, factories, and other attractions and events will offer downloadable packets for teachers on their websites or have them available on site. I’m not generally a fan of paper and pencils on field trips because I want my kids to be free to look and touch and experience things in a less-schoolish way, but these resources can still come in handy, especially after your field trip is complete, to review what your children have seen and learned.
Field trips don’t have to be stressful! They can be the fun yet highly educational outings we want them to be as homeschooling moms. A little foresight and planning can make all the difference!
What steps do you take to make field trips easier for you and more beneficial for your kids?